Guests arriving to Diesel’s Milan Fashion Week show on Wednesday might have been surprised by the set: a giant mountain of condoms. The Italian brand unveiled its Fall-Winter 2023 collection against a backdrop of over 200,000 Durex boxes, nodding to both sex positivity and a forthcoming collaboration with the contraceptive company.
“We like to play at Diesel, and we are serious about it,” creative director Glenn Martens said in a statement. “Have fun, respect each other, be safe.”
Indeed, the entire collection explored themes of freedom, pleasure and experimentation, with models strutting around the condom avalanche in ultra-low-rise jeans, denim garments with sheer meshed lace panels and ripped silk dresses held together by precarious-looking chains. The accompanying techno soundtrack was interspersed with the sound of explicit moans, reinforcing the message that Martens is out to push boundaries.
Since becoming creative director in October 2020, the Belgian designer has steered Diesel — long known for its provocative marketing and luxe jeans aesthetic — towards more experimental uses of denim. He has also been playing with upcycling. This collection alone featured leftover nylon that was coated with another kind of plastic and heated, deadstock faux fur painted to look almost like liquid and biker jackets that were blow-torched and transformed into structural pieces.
And, of course, he has made Diesel’s set design something of a talking point during fashion week.
In February 2022, at Martens’ post-pandemic runway return, the label greeted attendees with five inflatables striking a series of cheeky poses described by Diesel as “confident, exuberant and proud.” Each was modeled on a real person and ranged from around 25 feet to 55 feet wide. Invitations for the show included an edible thong made of red and white candy.
Then, for its Spring-Summer 2023 presentation last September, Diesel erected an enormous inflatable that earned a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest ever blow-up sculpture. (The label also invited the public to attend the show, breaking with fashion week’s exclusive norms to host a whopping 5,000 people.)
The condom “mountain,” as Diesel described it, made for yet another viral moment under Martens’ direction — a move that promotes both the label’s new collection and safe sex. In keeping with the theme, invitations were sent in the form of Durex packs, while a post-runway press release announced that Diesel will be distributing a further 300,000 condoms across its stores worldwide in April. One jersey T-shirt seen on Wednesday’s runway also hinted at what’s to come, with the classic Diesel “D” logo swapped for Durex’s “D”.
Top image caption: The Diesel presentation’s set.